“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
Changing times requires change leaders. But, despite the pace of change and the tight labor market we are experiencing today, the C-Suite is failing to develop future change leaders. Leadership is more than a title or a promotion. It is a valuable skill that enables individuals to lead others through good and bad times and help them navigate change. So, it is really incomprehensible when you try to understand the continuing lack of commitment by many executives to develop change leaders.
The next generation of leaders is bright and talented. But, neither companies nor academia are preparing them to lead through complex organization and business model changes. Millenials are clear that they want a career path, and that they want to be developed. But, bright and talented does not always translate into one’s ability to communicate effectively, motivate others, influence change, and drive results. There is often a lack of commitment from the top of the organization to invest in an on-going program to develop leaders and change behaviors.
And, it is not just the next generation of leaders companies are failing. There are tenured leaders and hi-potential leaders who are struggling as well in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment. The leadership gaps are not limited to start-ups but also permeate themselves in mature organizations.
Why have many organizations been unsuccessful in closing the leadership gap? As I meet with members of the C-Suite to understand their challenges, they share multiple reasons for the lack of investment and perceived lack of commitment. Some C-Suite members are facing leadership challenges within their own team, have inexperienced or no organization development professionals in their organization, and are faced with balancing budgets, resources, and deliverables. And, they admit they are challenged with turnover, leaders not delivering on their targeted outcomes, and retention of talent.
The solution is not more change management programs. Leaders move organizations from where they are to where they need to be. This includes setting the direction for leadership, culture, and a strategic perspective. The most successful leaders understand that success is connecting innovation, employees, and consumers. And, this requires an investment in developing change leaders.
True leaders look beyond themselves. They listen, respect the well being of others, encourage innovation, and support learning from mistakes. They are often humble and step up to lead the journey of change. Some have natural leadership skills, and others were fortunate to have a great mentor and/or work for a company that understood the benefits of developing change leaders at all levels of the organization.
We expect leaders further down in the organization to execute on the key initiatives, yet they are not always provided the tools and resources to do their job. Many are on the front line in manager or supervisor positions, for which they have received little to no training. They are faced with daily talent challenges and are less prepared to lead. But, these are the individuals that the majority of the employee population connects with and looks to for guidance. I would argue that this group of leaders represents the biggest ROI for most businesses.
As a change leader, I encourage you to use change as a way to identify and develop tomorrow’s leaders. You may need to erase the board and start over or simply commit to developing change leaders who deliver on their goals and develop other change leaders along the way. Tomorrow’s leaders will be focused on teams and less on building hierarchies that slow down productivity and drive inefficient business models.
Hrthought, LLC is focused on helping companies grow their business by leveraging change through the development of leaders and high performance teams. Professional services include: leadership development, educational workshops, leadership assessments, and we advise clients on talent/HR strategy. Visit our website at www.hrthought.com or contact Robin at 508-667-3664 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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